For Immediate Release
In London, Natalie Curtis (Georgian, Russian, English): +44 (0)20 7820 0222 or + 44 (0) 7515 575174 (mobile)
In Geneva, Thomas Nash (English): +44-771-1926-730 (mobile)
In Geneva, Mark Hiznay (English): +1-202-352-8983 (mobile)
In Washington, DC, Steve Goose (English): +1-540-630-3011 (mobile); or email@example.com
CMC Condemns Georgian Use of Cluster Bombs
After admitting use, Georgia must sign global treaty banning weapon
GENEVA - A network of 250 non-governmental organisations across 70 countries
has condemned Georgia's use of cluster munitions, just three months
after 107 nations agreed to ban the weapon. In a letter to Human Rights
Watch, the Georgian Defense Ministry stated that cluster bombs were
"used against Russian military equipment and armament marching from
Roki tunnel to Dzara road [sic]," but that they "were never used
against civilians, civilian targets and civilian populated or nearby
areas." The majority of the world's nations that have banned the weapon
have declared any use of any cluster munition in any location
unacceptable, because of the harm they cause to civilians during and
"Cluster bombs are indiscriminate killers not only during attacks
but leave a deadly legacy long after conflict," said Thomas Nash,
coordinator of the Cluster Munition Coalition. "We are disturbed to
learn that both Georgia and Russia have used cluster munitions. This
highlights again the urgency of the international ban, to be signed in
Oslo this December by the majority of the world's nations."
The Cluster Munition Coalition welcomes Georgia's willingness to
acknowledge its use of cluster munitions and hopes that this is a first
step toward adopting the treaty. The CMC launched a series of actions
to protest the use of cluster munitions by Russia in Georgia last month
and the international campaign group will now pressure Georgia as well
to immediately renounce any future use of the weapon.
"As the newest affected country and also as the newest user of
cluster munitions, we will be working hard to make sure that Georgia
joins other past users and affected countries in signing up to the ban
in Oslo this December," said Norwegian People's Aid's Grethe Østern,
Co-Chair of the CMC.
The Georgian Ministry of Defense identified the type of cluster
munitions used as the GRADLAR 160 multiple launch rocket system with
MK4 rockets with M85 submunitions. First Deputy Minister of Defense
Batu Kutelia also told Human Rights Watch that these are the only
cluster munitions Georgia possesses.
In August, Human Rights Watch documented Russia's use of several
types of cluster munitions, both air- and ground-launched, in a number
of locations in Georgia's Gori district, causing 11 civilian deaths and
wounding dozens more. Russia continues to deny using cluster munitions.
"Russia is denying any use of cluster munitions and has rejected the
Oslo Process to ban them. But just as the use of antipersonnel
landmines has become almost non-existent, we are confident that
international outrage over this latest use of cluster bombs will deepen
the growing stigma against the weapon," said Human Rights Watch's Steve
Goose, Co-Chair of the CMC.
Human Rights Watch called on Georgia and Russia to immediately
renounce any future use of cluster munitions, and to commit to joining
the new Convention on Cluster Munitions when it opens for signature in
Oslo on December 3, 2008.
Neither Georgia nor Russia was part of the Oslo Process launched in
February 2007 to develop a new international treaty banning cluster
munitions. In May 2008, 107 nations meeting in Dublin adopted the
convention, which comprehensively bans the use, production, trade, and
stockpiling of the weapon.
Cluster munitions are large weapons that contain dozens or hundreds
of smaller submunitions. They cause unacceptable humanitarian harm in
two ways. First, their broad-area effect kills and injures civilians
indiscriminately during strikes. Second, many submunitions do not
explode, becoming de facto landmines that cause civilian casualties for
months or years to come.
The Georgian government told Human Rights Watch that it used the M85
submunitions, which have a "self-destruction mechanism ... designed to
ensure that no armed duds will be left on the battlefield." However,
field research has shown that M85 submunitions used by Israel in south
Lebanon in 2006 had a failure rate of greater than 10 percent, leaving
large numbers of dangerous "duds" on the ground.
For more information on the CMC's work on the use of cluster munitions in the Russia/ Georgia conflict please visit: http://www.stopclustermunitions.org/news/?id=595
To read the Human Rights Watch press release on the Georgian use of cluster munitions, please visit:
The Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) is an international coalition working to protect civilians from the effects of cluster munitions. The CMC has a membership of around 300 civil society organisations from more than 80 countries, and includes organisations working on disarmament, peace and security, human rights, victim/survivor assistance, clearance, women's rights, faith issues and other areas of work. The CMC facilitates the efforts of NGOs worldwide to educate governments, the public and the media about the problems of cluster munitions and the solution.